This blog is only intended to provide snippets from a vastly complex chemistry world. I don’t review journal articles here or discuss the validity of the data published therein. My lack of doing so should not be interpreted as nescience. I just prefer to keep it light.
I admire bloggers who evaluate the ruggedness of published data. A blogger who calls out the editor-in-cheif of a scientific journal for stating that a blog is an inappropriate place to question scientific findings? Well, that is going to earn my lifelong fandom, especially with such an expertly written retort.
Last week the editorial board of ACS Nano published their thoughts on how scientific misconduct should be handled. They feel it is inappropriate for issues of misconduct to be taken up in a public form such as a blog or on Twitter. ChemBark fired back:
Your assertion that commenting on papers is a “privilege” smacks of the elitist, opaque, closed-door, Old-Boys’-Club approach that many lament has become standard operating procedure in too many areas of chemistry. Many young chemists decry that success in our field is not so much about what you do, but whom you know. Blogs are helping to level the playing field by putting users on equal terms and democratizing the flow of information. In order for any self-governing and self-policing body to operate effectively, members of the community must stay informed about important issues they face. There can be nothing more important to chemistry than the integrity of our data; it is the foundation on which our knowledge is built.
I recommend that you read ChemBark’s Response to ACS Nano Editorial Reporting on Misconduct in its entirety.
Recipes for how to create lead, mercury and opium ointments for what ails ya from The Techno-Chemical Receipt Book published in 1888. How did folks in the 1800’s lived long enough to reproduce?
The realization that your chemistry midterm is in 24 hours and you are wholly unprepared, the untimely call from your folks to remind you they are shouldering a heap of debt for your education – there are any number of downers to experience in a day, but leave it to chemists to identify the ultimate buzz kill. Kynurenic acid, shown above, has been proven to counter act the effects of THC, rendering marijuana use uneventful. Bummer living through chemistry? Read about it here.
The Noble Prize in chemistry was announced today. It was given to three computational chemists whose work allowed chemical modeling and interactions to be visualized like never before. In this quote from Reuters Martin Karplus and Arieh Warshel, who won the prize along with Michael Levitt, talk about what they had to over come to reach this achievement.
It was not an easy scientific journey, however. Warshel said he had been convinced of the case for using computers to simulate chemical reactions since 1975 but did not know if he would live to see it adopted.
"I always knew it was the right direction, but I had infinite difficulties and setbacks in the research. None of my papers were ever published without being rejected first," he told Reuters.
Karplus said his early work using computers was initially met coldly by many of his scientific colleagues in the ’70s.
"My chemistry colleagues thought it was a waste of time," he told reporters at Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts, adding that the next generation of scientists should be courageous and "not believe their colleagues necessarily if they say they can’t do something."
I have to recommend that you pick up the Sept. 30th issue of C&ENews. There is some crazy fun stuff in there. Like:
Intermolecular Forces Visualized (Smack that on a Powerpoint!)
A bizarre story about the CEO of a biotech start-up who tried to murder his chief scientific officer and then his brother-in-law. WHA?
3D printed guns. (Did C&ENews get a scoop on the season premier of Elementary?) The plastics available for printing are not currently durable enough to withstand an explosion in the chamber, but it is definitely of concern.
And my favorite read in the issue, a story about motorsports and the different ways racers cheat. There are a dozen concoctions they sneak into the gas tank to try and improve performance. But the most cleaver cheater rigged his mandatory fire extinguisher so it dispensed nitrous oxide into the engine at the push of a button. NIce!
Scientists from Harvard and MIT collaborated to achieve something that was to this point merely theoretical. They created an environment where typically massless photons can interact to the extent that they seem to have mass and as such can form molecules.
"Photonic molecules," however, behave less like traditional lasers and more like something you might find in science fiction — the light saber.
Light sabers people, light sabers!
The application is a bit of a stretch given the conditions necessary for photonic molecule formation. Rubidium atoms were cooled to just above zero Kelvin by two lasers while inside a vacuum chamber. The atoms were pegged with photons moving so slowly they picked up some of the atoms’ energy and were able to form molecules.
Even if I don’t get a light saber out of it, that is pretty cool science. Read more about it here.
Some farmers are examining their soil, and finding cause for concern after years of using glyphosate to kill weeds in their fields.
Probiotics for the gut? How about the soil?
The reactivity series for metals was born in 1771 when Luigi Galvani touched two different metals to a frogs legs and it involuntarily jumped. He found the greater the difference in the metals, the larger the effect. Alessandro Volta expanded on Galvani’s work and created the reactivity series.
Here is a link to a video of what appears to be someone replicating the Galvani experiment on their kitchen counter next to their tooth brush. Eew.